21 December, 2015

PINK VELVET CAKE

We've been spending a good bit of time over here discussing what Jesus' birthday cake should look like this year, and though the vote for something chocolate is unanimous, I personally could do with another round of this velvet cake.

I made this pink velvet cake for Philippa's third birthday and I dare say it was the most perfectly textured and deliciously flavoured cake I have ever ever made.

If you're looking for a cake recipe, look no further.

We made this pink because, Philippa. But there's no reason it can't stay fresh and white or be tinted another colour. Also, I had never baked with almond extract before this, but don't even consider omitting it.





Pink Velvet Cake 
makes two 9-inch round cakes or two taller 6-inch cakes
recipe via

Ingredients:
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch sea salt
4 large egg whites (120g)
2/3 cup milk (161g)
6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, cubed, and at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
colouring to suit


Method:
Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Prepare two 6-inch round pans* with butter.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Add in egg whites, milk, butter, and extracts. Whisk on low until ingredients are incorporated.

Beat thoroughly for 1 minute. Divide batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a stick inserted comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely before frosting.

*I used 9-inch pans and reduced the baking time by about 10 minutes and the cakes were lovely.


I frosted this using this buttercream recipe, which can indeed be made without a mixer if you happened to cause your hand blender to overheat and haven't yet invested in a KitchenAid with a UK plug (ahem), though it will definitely not be as fluffy as in the photos.



Merry Christmas, you guys! Happy Birthday, Jesus! xo

14 December, 2015

Hello, hello!

As a small explanation for my lengthy silence: incredibly, I started working with this amazing company to help organise their massive London ShopUp. What an inspiring company to be involved in! I'm excited to share more later, but now that this year's event has passed, maybe I'll blog more. Who knows- ha.

All five of us were hit with a mean virus the week of Thanksgiving, so we had to cancel our guests' trip down from Edinburgh, Peter took two sick days, we watched a whole season of Little House on the Prairie, and averaged 20 hours of sleep a day for six days. It took two full weeks to feel totally back to normal, but we have recovered, and are so thankful for health & healing.

Peter's finished his biggest painting, and one he has been working on for years, because of a lack of free time. One of the happiest things for me, since moving here, is seeing him paint far more than he ever has since we've been together. I say its because of all his free time (ha!), he says its because his passion has been rekindled. You can decide which you think is the true reason.

Last year we boarded a plane for America on Christmas Eve, and this year we're staying put to have our own quiet Christmas in our new London home. Quiet and Christmas seem to be mutually exclusive, and holidays across the pond always feel bittersweet, but this year we are excited to be together. For gifts we've decided to do experience things in lieu of bags and boxes of presents and I am so excited. Peter has ten days off for the holidays so we are hoping to pack in a lot of exploring, baking, Christmas movie watching, and maybe a bit of travelling too.

And here we are the week before Christmas. . .how in the world does time travel so quickly? Christmas is by far my favourite time of year and despite celebrating earlier than usual this year, it's still passing far too quickly.

Highlights for the littles include but are not limited to TWO Christmas parties at Peter's office in the coming weeks, my promise to make a batch of Christmas cookies at least once a week until Christmas, completing their first coming downstairs every morning to a sparkling tree, moving the candle in our advent calendar every morning, and counting Christmas trees in shop windows each time we go into the City.

This really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Happy Christmas, all!

xx

10 November, 2015

I WISH TO SEE THE SEA



I woke up this morning with a deep longing for the Scottish seaside that we called home for so long. The kind of longing that gives your stomach knots and wrenches your heart. Then I was scrolling my Facebook feed which I rarely do anymore and found this which basically opened the flood gates and now I'm on thetrainline.com looking at journeys to our beloved Fife.

So, here I am. Blogging an unplanned post about our beloved rainy town.

Thank you a million times for these, Rachel. I knew they'd be a balm to my England-dwelling soul.

23 October, 2015

TEN THINGS TO CLICK



I've been listening to this song, these guys a lot again. They win every time.

Contemplating purchasing this book for my coffee table.

The coolest kindergarten in the universe.

This made me laugh out loud.

Part of me would love to moderate this Instagram feed.

Peter and I have been watching this show on Netflix. It's lighthearted, mindless, and cosy. We've enjoyed it.

The dresses, the nightwear, the shoes -- this luxury children's clothing company here in London is everything. Celia also inspires me because she's raising five children all very close in age in London.

Conveniently came across this list of London's go-to hot chocolate places just after Sebastian subtly said, "Maybe we could get hot cocoa at a cafe together one day. . ."

We're talking about getting fancy and taking the kids to see something special at Royal Albert Hall this Christmas.

We made these scones this week because pumpkin.

-

Have a great weekend, everyone! xo

19 October, 2015

MONDAY JOY




Monday! On Sunday afternoons I hate you, but on Monday morning I sing your praises! Monday mornings equal a lot of things. New mercies, new beginnings, fresh starts.

Mondays I feel so inspired I usually scribble a to-do list for the day, and it generally has about twelve-too-many things on it but I start out with such gusto that by about Thursday I proclaim it field trip day or watch giraffes being born on Youtube in bed for an hour day. I like life this way and am thankful we're at a place where this can still pass. I have no idea what I'll do when we actually have to have structure (ahem school).



For a second can we talk about how lovely Sundays are? I can recall when I was young the best Sundays were the ones that involved cooking the cosiest lunches followed by good reads, a movie, naps. When Peter and I first got married that's exactly what we made Sundays look like, and we thought we had it all. So, to show it all to our children, thats what our Sundays (generally) still look like. Bliss!

So family stuff.




Peter's doing financial modelling and presented his first company today, but halfway through the presentation the fire alarms were tested and 2,000 people forced to evacuate the building, mid-new guy's presentation. Ha! He gets up at 5:30am, returns at about 7pm, and is wiped at the end of each day, but he feels really fulfilled in what he's doing and really enjoys the people on his team. We're so thankful for such a smooth transition.

Sebastian's a budding entrepreneur. His newest endeavour: rubbish bin removals. For 50p/week he rolls out and brings back our neighbours' bins. He says he's saving for a remote controlled fire truck, a Bugatti, a bi-plane, and a house for his wife. I'm not sure about the ordering of those. But we're so pleased with his sharp mind and social skills, and the encouragement he's gotten from so many neighbours. 

He's a clever boy, and he says things like, "Mama, when you have my brother. . ." and "we're not in school yet, we're just being homeschooled but next year before we turn five mama and papa are going to find us a school and then we'll be going there", and, holding two melons up to his chest, "I went to the breast shop." 

I'm so glad I have a son.

Katharina's newest favourite is the Little House books and I couldn't be more pleased. She sits on edge every time I slowly turn a page and at the end of each chapter she cosily says, "I think we should read just one more. . ." Except for the sound of my husband's train rolling up every night, there's not a lot that makes me genuinely excited. 

Well except for holidays and a pint of Ben & Jerry's all to myself, warm cookies, newborn babies, my children's voices in the morning, mail. . .

but anyway, curling up on the couch with Philippa on my lap and a twin on either side of me, wrapped up in our favourite fur blanket and reading about Indians demanding cornbread and fever 'n ague and prairie chicken dinner-- that makes my heart pretty dang jumpy too.



Katharina says thoughtful things like, "Can we not walk on the graves?" (No) "Is that because the people buried there can feel it?" She loves writing, does simple addition and subtraction, and continues to memorise things after hearing them just once or twice. She swaddles kittens and buttons her sisters dresses, brushes her hair morning, noon, and night, and has a heart of gold.



Philippa turns three in just a couple weeks. We're collecting supplies to make her party invitations and the most exciting proponent: pink glitter. Because Philippa. All she wants is pink cake and pink ice cream and pink balloons and a pink scooter and pink streamers and pink pink pink. Got it? 

I squeeze her till she's pink.



I'm daily thankful for the many reminders of the Lord's goodness in my life. We have a whole lot to be thankful for, and pray our lives always reflect that. One of my favourite things our pastor said yesterday was this (if you can, hear this with a true Scottish brogue, energy, and perfect emphasis): There, awaits us, a life of  u n i n t e r r u p t e d  joy!

What a thought.


I'm going to live today in anticipation of that. Have a great start to your week guys! God is good and faithful.

xo

22 September, 2015

FOR KATHARINA



This post is for Katharina, who was traumatically born into the world and struggled for her life and suffered apnea attacks and a spinal tap and endless tests, and was hooked to feeding tubes and every machine a NICU knows but conquered it all and turns f o u r next week.

My oldest girl turns four!



It took me three solid years to be willing to tell just anyone how awful our twins' birth was. Philippa's home birth was healing for both Peter and me in many ways, and it wasn't until long after that that I started to reconcile myself with the fact that despite what we hoped and wanted and believed for my twin delivery, things didn't go according to how anyone would want.

It was years before I embraced the fact that in a final, desperate moment my midwife forced her arm elbow-deep inside me to pull Katharina down into my birth canal to be delivered by forceps. I had blood pressure higher than any of the nurses had ever witnessed, I suffered placental abruption and nearly bled out and lost this girl who miraculously turns four next week.

Four seems like a pretty big deal to me, especially when I consider she almost wasn't here for a single day.



I wanted to single her out and do something special for her, just with her, despite her being attached to and sharing a birthday with her twin brother. Over the weekend I asked her if she'd like to take her favourite dress and flower crown to the park and have me take some pretty photos before she turns four. Oh, the excitement and pure joy!



These photos perfectly encompass who she is right now at 6-days-shy-of-four-years-old. I didn't ask her to do a single thing for these, she just wandered around from wildflower patch to wildflower patch, collecting enough for a satisfactory bouquet. We didn't bring a book, a blanket, a doll. She's just so simply content, so naturally beautiful.  She's tender and quiet and gentle.

Her heart is about as big as they come.

Little Kitty, we're so thankful you're with us today and overjoyed at the little lady you are.

18 September, 2015

TGIF



It's Friday!

It's Friday! I wake up with such adrenaline Friday mornings, and gratefulness that we've made it through another week. Most weeks the days feel super long, with Peter being long gone by time we've all woken, but the weeks still mysteriously fly by and I have yet to determine the cause of that.

The littles and I like to pack a few days full of adventuring, nature-walking, picnicking (while we still can!), and leave a few days to be "home days" to recharge, bake bread, watch a show in bed, and work our way through library reads. By time Friday comes, we are usually pretty wiped and eager for family walks and a general slowness.

Our weekends with Peter are so incredibly treasured. They're like this sacred, untouchable oasis where we are extremely particular about what we choose to allow into it. It's a good way to be, I think. The littles deem the time between his Friday night train arriving to bedtime Sunday evening as "Papa Time" and each new one approaches with about as much excitement as Christmastime.

The littles and I had a sweet time this morning, though all we went out with the intention of doing was take suits to the dry cleaners and donate some old summer clothes. After dropping off donations we stopped in a new favourite place-- Plumtree Cafe, which is a privately owned, totally child-friendly cafe that sells local honey, organic fruit juices, paninis and all sorts of things we love.

Moseying our towards home we happened upon our local butcher where we bought the kittens chicken livers for their raw food diet, the cutest greengrocer, and a florist where I was tempted to buy them out of hydrangeas.

Katharina and I have this honest way of speaking when we want something we know we can't or shouldn't have. Last week she said to me while helping to roll balls of cookie dough, "I'm really tempted to eat this ball of dough right now." But she didn't! so you can imagine the guilt I felt even contemplating a whole bucket of hydrangeas with two enormous bouquets of sunflowers on my dining room table at home. :)

Next week I hope to take some time to write about Peter's job and a bit of life in general. Tonight we've got reservations at Jamie Oliver's Italian restaurant and I feel I need a nap or else the red wine will slay me.

Some photos from our day below, before my phone decided to die at 17%.

Happiest of weekends, guys! Ours is looking like sunshine!